Nick Saban and company went a long way today towards solidifying the long-term outlook of the quarterback position at Alabama by landing Cooper Bateman, the 6'3 and 210 pound quarterback prospect out Salt Lake City, Utah. Bateman made his commitment public earlier this morning with a press release, the relevant excerpt of which is provided by the Daily 'Bama Blog:
"This has been a great time in my life, I have had the rare opportunity to be able to choose from many great schools that would allow me to get a college degree and continue to play the game that I love.This has been a very difficult decision only because I was able to meet and get to know so many wonderful coaches at so many great universities.
"I have chosen to attend the University of Alabama. I am honored that I will get to learn from Coach Saban and Coach Nussmeier and will get to represent Alabama, the state and the University. I want to thank my coaches at Cottonwood for all they have done for me and mostly to my parents who have made this all possible."
Consider this an addition that speaks for itself. Bateman held offers from nearly every school in the country, and most recruiting services have him as one of the top quarterback prospects in the country. In terms of his caliber as a prospect, he is very similar to what AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims were prior to matriculating to Tuscaloosa. He is less of a developmental project and more of someone who can legitimately be considered a viable starting candidate in the intermediate-to-long term, and if he can live up to the billing he will likely be the starting quarterback at Alabama as a second-year player in 2014.
In terms of a physical skill set, Bateman has all the attributes that coaches desire. Very few quarterbacks possess good size, a strong arm, and above-average mobility, but Bateman brings all three into the fold and that is the main reason why he comes as heavily regarded as he does. He's no surefire bet for the next level, of course, and admittedly the footwork needs further development, he will have to transition to an offense that typically operates with the quarterback under center, and coming out of the Utah prep ranks will not make for an easy acclimation to the SEC. Even so, the shortcomings generally pale in comparison to the outstanding physical tools.
On the whole, adding Bateman has to induce a major sigh of relief from the coaching staff. With the transfer of Phillip Sims the future of the quarterback position is very much up in the air in Tuscaloosa, and there is no guarantee that either Phillip Ely or Alec Morris will ever be able to be a viable player of SEC caliber. Both were signed as developmental projects of varying degrees, and by adding a prospect with the physical skill set of Bateman there is more certainty with respect to having a player at the position who can play at an acceptable level against quality competition.
Given the shortage of depth at quarterback, it has generally been assumed that Alabama would sign two quarterbacks in this class, and with Bateman in the fold it gives the 'Bama staff additional time to evaluate other quarterback prospects during summer camp and the upcoming prep football season. Riley Ferguson of North Carolina, for example, has been strongly linked to Alabama as a possibility, for example, but getting the verbal commitment of a prospect such as Bateman provides the luxury of further evaluations before making any firm personnel decisions.
Finally, it would be an omission not to note that there could be some concerns about Bateman keeping his commitment through this January because he is the caliber of prospect that opposing coaches will continue to recruit -- and the fact that he is roughly 1,800 miles from Tuscaloosa will surely create some concern -- but Bateman intends to enroll early and for now it seems he plans to shut down his recruitment and not take any other visits. There is nothing at the moment to indicate that this will be a major problem, but it should be duly noted from the outset as a possibility.
Bateman becomes the twelfth commitment of the 2013 recruiting class.
Addendum: Todd posted his junior clip earlier, but here are some sophomore highlights from YouTube: